“I met a guy and in our first conversation he told me how his self esteem was ruined, he had abandonment and neglect issues from his childhood, etc., etc. Then he had the nerve to say ‘just so you’ll know what you’ll be dealing with.’” ~Gwen T.
Is it possible to have a successful relationship with a man that tells you he is broken? Though the answer to that question is a resounding “no!” many women believe it is their role to step in and fix broken men.
The socialization of females assigns blame and responsibility for the failure of any relationship on the woman. To be a good woman requires that a woman “stand by her man” no matter the circumstances. It becomes easy to understand why there are so many men who believe themselves entitled to unconditional love from women, not matter how they treat her.
But why would a woman play nursemaid to a man broken into emotional and mental pieces? What’s in it for her?
Why Women Get Involved With Broken Men
The Urban Dictionary describes a broken man as “a person who has constantly accumulated irreparable damage throughout their entire life. Damage which cannot be easily repaired, if at all. Also, someone who has been beaten into submission by life’s adversities or has given up on trying to overcome the obstacles.”
The type of female most vulnerable to the broken man’s sob story is lonely, often possessing low self esteem. A frequent target of broken men is the deeply religious woman that has prayed for a man to come into her life. She believes in giving her all to one man, in the hopes that he will be her future husband.
Other women are so fearful of being alone that they settles for any man that comes along. All women that fall for broken men will find themselves committing when there is really nothing to commit to.
Determined to Make Love Work
A woman involved with a broken man firmly believes that a relationship “takes work,” that he will change, become whole, and love her if she just works hard enough. She hopes for a payoff – the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is surely hers if only she gives it enough time. A woman will sacrifice her time, money and often her values, morals and body while doing all she can to support and encourage an unworthy man.
By offering love and commitment almost immediately with no effort on his part, a woman sets herself up to unconditionally love a man unable and unwilling to love her back. Of course, she is now right where he wants her. Over and over again he proceeds to violate her boundaries and injure her spirit by abandoning her in times of need.
The broken man she loves wounds her heart until she is just as broken as he is.
Why Nobody Could Fix Humpty Dumpty
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ~Frederick Douglas
As a child I remember a rhyme that went: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.” Sadly, most experts agree that once a man is broken, just like Humpty Dumpty, there is no hope of putting him back together again.
Some broken men grew up in or around violence, abuse or drugs and alcohol. They saw and heard horrible things. Neglected and uncared for, sometimes these young men were forced to do things for their survival that no child should have to do. From personal experience I have witnessed that most of these fellas suffer from
- low self esteem
- a feeling of inadequacy and “not being good enough”
- extreme fear of rejection
- distrust of others
- refusal to be vulnerable or “soft”
- inability to love
- a belief that they would fail at anything they tried so why bother
- a need to control their environment and the people in it by any means necessary
In his article Broken Men, Gary A. Crow, Ph.D. says “the severity of adult maladjustment is proportional to the degree of inadequacy: the more severe the neglect, the more severe the adult maladjustment. The hidden truth here is that the resulting adult maladjustment is usually only partially repairable; and far too frequently, the damage is not repairable at all. The long term effects of child neglect are usually serious and often permanent. A family, community, or society that neglects its children is committed to the creation of maladjusted adults. It’s as simple as that.”
Playing the Broken Man Game
“Who wants an IKEA man … always got to be put together. Not me!” -Melvita J.
Though there are millions of wounded people in the dating world, few find it necessary to spill their guts and share their whole life story with someone new in their life. You can bet if you’re on an early date and any type of “I’m wounded which is why I can’t be the man you want me to be, but you can try to change me if you want” story, a game is being run.
Women fall for the game which may be as simple as “my last girlfriend cheated on me so now I don’t trust women, but I trust you. You’re different.” His words make you believe you’ve been put on a pedestal! Since you don’t want to disappoint him again like all the other women he’s been with, you bend over backwards to be accommodating and to never even LOOK at another man. While he is out and about doing whatever he wants with his broken self.
Another popular broken man game is “marriage is sacred to me, and I only want to get married once.” You paint yourself into the picture as his bride, and set about showing him what a great wife you would be. You pick up his children, comb their hair, cook two meals a day, and clean like Hazel during your “wife audition.”
The more complex games that tug at your heart strings are wild stories about an abusive mother, juvenile hall or prison, and sometimes all of the above. Such stories evoke sympathy and tears, and stir a woman’s desire to nurture – two very powerful emotions that bond you to your broken man.
Instrumental to the game’s success is a single woman with a soft heart and a gullible mind. Always he chooses a giving caring soul that wants to help people. Once she gets involved in his game, she will bear the burden of supporting him (often financially), assuming his responsibilities (child support and job searches are common), and excusing all the hurtful, nasty things he does.
You can’t really say much because, after all, he did warn you that he was damaged. You cannot rightly expect perfection and dependability from a damaged, broken man, remember?
The Broken Bottom Line
“I will lend you a screwdriver or a lug wrench every now and then but eventually you betta get your own damn tools to heal you and put you back together!” ~LaVagabond W.
Though each of us carries wounds from childhood through adulthood, as mature and responsible people, we must take charge of our lives and fix our problems ourselves. A broken piece of a man that prefers to place responsibility for his trials and tribulations on the shoulders of a woman is no one to bother with.
Gwen added: “After his revelation that he was damaged, I immediately knew this was someone I would NOT be dealing with. I have a big issue with folk dumping on me from the get go and just assuming I’m going to take on the role of enabler/ healer/counselor, etc. There was a season in my life when EVERYTHING was going wrong and out of whack. I told myself ‘I don’t need to meet anyone or try to date until I get myself together.’ And I stood by that for my self’s sake. I won’t do it to anybody and I will not let anyone do it to me. Get yourself healed instead of bleeding all over other folks.”
All self-proclaimed broken men should be told: “if you want to be put back together, you need a professional. I am not in the mental health business. Nor do I patch together broken things, I just go get a new one. So you can see why I refuse to accept half a man or half a relationship. When you are healthy, whole and ready to love with all you have, call me.”